>>Now that you’re in Israel, and the food available is different than the food available in the US, and the prices different as well (not to mention different bulk things available), I was wondering how or if your focus on healthy foods changed…. I was wondering how you prioritized health and made do with what is available here.<<
Rather than go into detail about the specifics of how our diet has changed since we moved to Israel three months ago – I’m happy to share about that in another post if there’s interest – I’m going to share how I think about the nutritional limitations that I’ve felt, and I think many others do, when seeing that the amount of money available doesn’t extend to the the foods they feel are necessary to buy for an optimum diet.
Last year was a difficult year for me in many ways; I often felt like I was chasing my tail, and as a result, I wasn’t cooking as well as I had in the past. We still had a healthy diet – but too often I’d get discouraged because I was looking at what I wasn’t doing, rather than all that I was doing. But what I was doing was still significant!
I really enjoy learning about nutrition, and I enjoy feeling like I can take concrete steps to nourish my family. This is something I’ve enjoyed learning about since I was 17, and I’ve been blessed to have been able to continually learn more and make nutritional improvements over the years. But there’s a fine line between doing all that we can nutritionally, and developing an unhealthy perfectionism, an attitude of all or nothing.
It’s so easy to get trapped by this, and because it’s coming from a good place, of wanting the best for our families, it can be harder to see that we’ve crossed the line of balance. Sometimes, people end up feeling that no matter how much they do, it’s never enough. I certainly did.
I had to mentally recalibrate then, and I periodically have to recalibrate now. Good nutrition isn’t about an all or nothing approach. It’s a journey, and sometimes you’ll have different tools available to you than other times as you walk this path.
One of the tools for the journey is money. Some of us have more, some of us have less. Accessibility of certain foods is another too. Physical energy to prepare food from scratch and shop is another tool, desire to learn more is another tool. The support of our spouses is a tool, the willingness of our children to eat what we make is another tool….there are so many tools! All of us have some tools in abundance, and other tools are kind of spotty.
When I focus on what I’m missing, it’s going to keep me from seeing all that I do have! And to gloss over the amazing abundance we’ve seen over the years because it didn’t provide for every single thing I would have dreamed of would be almost criminal. Over the last five years, our monthly food budget has ranged from $400 up to $650 (for our family of 11) while living in the US. It’s been hard for many people to imagine how we fed our family on this amount, let alone kosher, healthy foods – but we were able to integrate many wonderful nutritional components into our way of eating.
Whenever I would go food shopping, I would often feel that G-d made sure I found wonderful bargains, and helped me meet people who were able to help us further expand what we had available (farmers I was able to buy from directly, store managers who were willing to sell to me at wholesale prices, etc). We were provided for in so many ways. I felt that our money was blessed and it was able to stretch so much farther than seemed likely! Does that mean that I had everything I wanted? No. But I had everything I needed. Big difference!
Of course there were things that I would have liked to have been able to afford. And now there are things here in Israel that I wish were available or affordable. But if I get frustrated about what I can’t have/do or get stuck on what I wish I had, it keeps me from seeing and appreciating all that I do have.
Getting stuck in negativity is a bad place to live from, and certainly a bad place to eat from! Even the best food can’t fully nourish you when you are filled with negativity. I believe that the frame of mind you eat in also affects your health, and eating less than ideal foods from a place of gratitude and joy is going to do good things for you.
Focusing on all that I have, validating my efforts, and trusting that we’ll be sent the tools that we need for our journey to health and in every other area of life, help me feel at peace with the constraints that I’m often faced with.
(This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.)